Palin Coverage Sexist? « The Washington Independent
This is absurd, but worth noting for its broader symbolism.
Michael Barone, senior writer at U.S. News & World Report and principal coauthor of “The Almanac of American Politics,” said at a luncheon today that journalists went after Gov. Sarah Palin so fiercely because she decided to carry her youngest son, Trig, to term.
“The liberal media attacked Sarah Palin because she did not abort her Down syndrome baby,” Barone said, according to accounts by attendees. “They wanted her to kill that child. … I’m talking about my media colleagues with whom I’ve worked for 35 years.”
Barone has apologized since making the remarks earlier today, saying he was joking.
Here’s why I think it’s worth noting. The press has taken a lot of heat for aggressively digging into Palin’s record as mayor of Wasilla and governor of Alaska, from Palin herself and some of her supporters. Even some journalists I know have asked me about the sheer volume of the coverage.
Let’s remember what happened.
After having months to pick his running mate, Sen. John McCain suddenly selected Palin after having met her just once. News reports suggested the choice was a purely political move meant to prevent a major Sen. Barack Obama bounce after the Democratic convention. Palin was a relative unknown, with a short record in statewide office, having been governor about a year and a half. But she was suddenly running to be vice president of the United States with a 72-year-old man with a history of health problems. There was a real chance she could end up stepping in as president.
Taking this into account, the media had a responsibility to take a hard look at her record. We’ve had 30 years to figure out who Sen Joe Biden, Obama’s running mate, is, what he believes and what kind of decisions he makes. But with Palin, the press had about two months to report out the information. The scrutiny of Palin was intense because it had to be.
Compounding the problem was the McCain campaign’s decision to isolate and insulate Palin. The once media-friendly politician was suddenly unreachable. At the same time, she was stoking a culture war on the stump by accusing the press of being disconnected with the people.
Maybe I just can’t take a joke. But for now, I think, we should have done more, not less.